Bankrupt Japan-based bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox released a new press statement earlier today (21st March) confirming 20th March reports that it had uncovered an ‘old-format’ bitcoin wallet containing some 200,000 bitcoins ($115.8m at press time) presumed lost in the run-up to its insolvency.
The statement indicated that the company discovered the funds on 7th March and promptly informed the necessary authorities of the recovery.
However, Chris Dore, a partner at Edelson law firm, isn’t exactly buying Mt. Gox’s version of the events.
Dore, whose firm represents the US class action against the insolvent exchange, suggested that the announcement is closely tied to matters it is currently investigating.
Dore summed up his opinion on the news, telling CoinDesk:
“Their statement that they found [these bitcoins] in a random wallet and failed to tell anyone for two weeks is highly suspect.”
Instead, Dore indicated he believes that the funds may be connected to his firm’s ongoing investigation of 180,000 bitcoins that were said to have been moving through the blockchain on or around 7th March.
“We believe we were on the right trail. It appeared that these 180,000, 200,000 bitcoins were being tumbled, that they were being broken down and reconstituted, so our goal was to find this out.”
Dore suggested that the announcement may have been a move by Mt. Gox to make it harder for information to be uncovered about the funds.
Added Dore: “If it’s a coincidence, it’s a $120m coincidence. We frankly just don’t buy it.”
Investigating the funds
In an interview, Dore elaborated on court proceedings held yesterday, noting that during the day’s events his legal team had asked for restrictions on Mt. Gox’s assets to be relaxed, a request the judge approved. Dore said that his team asked for certain third parties to be able to move the funds.
“We’re not fully disclosing what we know or why we were asking that, but essentially it was an effort to try and trace bitcoins that were being moved around and that we believe were associated with this initial group of 180,000 [bitcoins].”
The correlation between the events, Dore suggested, raises questions about Mt. Gox and its conduct.
“The idea that they found it in a wallet and they were breaking it down into hundreds of thousands of smaller wallets, it raises a lot of questions about their honesty and whether they’re being forthright about what they have.”
Dore was not able to fully elaborate on his suspicions regarding the movement of the funds.
Said Dore: “Our hope was, if they could continue to move, we could track where they would end up.”
What the finding means
Dore also addressed another lingering question, just what exactly does the discovery of the funds mean for former exchange users given that these parties are not creditors.
However, that may be up for dispute. Dore indicated that his firm could still make the case that his clients should be treated with this legal distinction.
“In our view, any assets are impactful on our settlement, because [these are] the assets, the fiat currency [and] the bitcoins of our class members. We will do everything in our power to get those returns.”
The next scheduled hearing is expected to take place on 1st April. Then, Mt. Gox will attempt to shield its US assets until the conclusion of its bankruptcy proceedings in Japan.
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